Thursday, October 2, 2014

Preview 4 of USATF Masters 5K Championships--Women's Teams

October 1 2014. Four days until race time. Most teams should have entered by now but there is still time to enter so some teams may still be finalizing their rosters. This preview is based on information posted on the USATF 'Status of Entries' page through 10 pm October 01 2014. Just a reminder that in USATF road races, team placement is determined by the total time of the three fastest runners on each team as they cross the finish line.

Women 40+.  This division was captured by the Willow Street AC out of New York with a team time of 1:40 for an average of 18:19 per runner. The Willow Street team of Emily Bryans, Lori Kingsley, and Anne Benson defeated the Athena Track Club (Marisa Sutera-Strange, Linda Hawke, Julie Rankin) by 1:40 with the Genesee Valley Harriers (Audra Naujokas-Knapp, Rebecca Duberty, Martha McLaughlin) only 20 seconds back in third. In 2013 the Atlanta Track Club showed up and their top three of Sonja Friend-Uhl, Nancy Mack, and Lesley Chaplin running 54:53 to defeat Bryans, Kingsley and  of Willow Street by a mere 24 seconds. The race for third was not a s tight as the year before with the GVH a full 4 minutes back in 2013, not their day.

So what can we look for in 2014? The Atlanta Track Club is already entered but only Friend-Uhl of last year's winning trio, is back. Their likely top 2 of Friend-Uhl and
Sonja Friend-Uhl
Sonja Friend-Uhl, capturing one of her many Florida road running titles in 2010 []

Ortlund appear as strong or stronger than last year's first two. But unless Chaplin or Mack enter this week, it appears ATC's 3rd runner will be pressed to break 20, which means they are potentially vulnerable should Willow Street enter with their usual strong team. Atlanta should still break 57 minutes however and might get in under 56. Two other teams with three entrants already entered are the Athena Track Club, back after a one year absence, and the Genesee Valley Harriers. Athena's composition is different because Sutera-Strange has moved up to the W50+ division. Hawke is back,

Linda Hawke (center), winner of the 33rd Radnor Run in 2010 []

however, joined by Peggy Conlon and Leslie Hoey. It appears that Hoey might have a shot at breaking 18 minutes. If Hawke can come close to the 18:40 she ran two years ago, that gives Athena  a great foundation. Conlon, their third runner as of today, appears capable of breaking 20 minutes but not 19. So Athena  can be right there with Atlanta. GVH  is back with the same top 3 from last year. That should not be enough strength to challenge Atlanta and Athena but is enough for the podium as long as Willow Street is not a last minute entry. It should be a terrific battle for the top two positions.

Women 50+. In this division the story is similar.with Willow Street (Beth Stalker, Nancy Briskie, and Karen Provencher) finishing 2nd to the Athena Track Club (Doreen McCoubrie, Lorraine Jasper, Cheryl Bellaire) in 2012 only to come back and win it in 2013 when Athena did not enter. Athena won pretty handily in 2012 with a 2:49 gap over Willow Street, finishing in 59:03 for a 19:41 average. Genesee Valley Harriers (Lisa Butler, Anna Fox, Darlene Saeva) finished another 3 and a half minutes back in 3rd. Times were slower last year when Athena stayed away. Willow Street, led again by Stalker, won in 63:02 (a 21:01 average) with Genesee Valley, paced again by Butler and Fox, just over a minute back in 2nd.

What about this year? Athena Track Club is back and appears to be stronger. as Marisa Sutera-Strange moved up from the 40+ division to join McCoubrie at the front
Marisa Sutera-Strange, after winning the 2009 Duchess County Classic 5K []

of Athena's W50+ pack. If Sutera-Strange can come close to matching the 18:17 she ran in 2012 and McCoubrie can match her 18:23 run in 2012, Hankin would only need to run around 20 (which seems well within her
Doreen McCoubrie, waiting for the start of the 2006 More Marathon, in which she finished 2nd []

reach) for the team to put up a pretty formidable sub-60 time. GVH is back but with considerable turnover; none of their top 3 return. Carol Bischoff, who ran a 42:09 in the 10K championships at Dedham this year appears to be their top runner and should be down around 20 minutes. But it does
not look as if anyone else on GVH is likely to get under 21 minutes and may not come in under 22. So a 64 or 65 minute team timer seems a reasonable projection, not fast enough to challenge Athena but maybe enough for the podium. Even if Willow Street  should pass this year, there are two new challengers. One is the Atlanta Track Club (Dianna Hinton, Nancy Stewart, Ena Weinstein) which appears strong enough to break 65 as a team and maybe even 64 but more that that would be asking much unless there is to be an added entrant. Weinstein and Hinton should lead the way for Atlanta which should give GVH a strong run for their money. The Liberty AC will bring in a  team from Massachusetts and Shore AC a team from NJ that will try to put pressure on the front runners. If Willow Street  enters the kind of teams they have in the past, they should be able to battle Athena for the win, with Atlanta and GVH hoping to push up into the top 3. Without Willow Street, it looks like Athena should take the prize, with Atlanta TC and GVH in a real tussle for second.

Women 60+. In 2012 Liberty AC had a dominant win over Playmakers Elite/New Balance out of Michigan in 2nd place. Liberty cranked out a 1:09:14 with Playmakers Elite over 11 minutes back. The following year Liberty and Playmakers Elite were in a much tighter contest with less than 2 minutes separation between them. However Genesee Valley stole their thunder by bringing in a team (Belinda O'Brien, Carolyn Smith-Hanna, Cindy Ingalls) that ran 1:09:47 to the 1:11:44 of Liberty AC (Jan Holmquist, Susan Gustafson, Lenore Webber) and the 1:13:21 of Playmaker Elite (Deborah Feltz, Jean Bolley, Lynn Driver).

This year GVH is back with their 2nd through 4th runners. O'Brien is gone but two runners have moved up from the 50+ team. If Sharon Moore, Smith-Hanna, and Ingalls can match their times from last year they could well be under 1:11 but it would 
Carolyn Smith-Hanna, winning one of her many national championships []

be a stretch to get under 1:10. The Liberty AC is entered but so far only their 2nd and 3rd runners from last year are entered. If their 3rd runner is Holmquist, they could give GVH a real battle for 1st. Feltz is back to lead Playmakers Elite but neither their 2nd nor 3rd runners from last year are entered yet. Unless that changes, it seems unlikely

that the Playmakers Elite will beat a time of 1:13 and 1:14 or higher may be a better prediction. Right now it looks like GVH is set to repeat their 2013 win. But if Holmquist enters for Liberty AC, it should be a real humdinger of a team race.

Women 70+. In 2012 the Syracuse Chargers (Sue Gardinier, Yvonne Tasker-Rothenberg, Carol Rider) ran 1:22:28 to take the title by 20 minutes over the Checkers AC also out of NY. The following year Syracuse was not entered but Playmakers Elite (Ellen Nitz, Janet Wallen, Shirley Larsen) showed up  to run a 1:31:59 and again take the title by more than 20 minutes from Checkers AC.
Helen Botti, running for the Checkers AC[,%20by%20Dustin%20Angell.jpg]

In 2014 there appears to be substantially more competition. Checkers AC is back to try for (at least) their third consecutive 2nd place finish. Christa Maier has joined Helen Botti, Edna Hyer, and Fran Rowe on the Checkers team and should help them get their team time back under 1:50 but breaking 1:40 still seems out of reach.  Playmakers Elite is back with the same 3 runners and should be favored for the win as low 1:30's seems very attainable for them. But Syracuse Track Club does have two of the three runners needed for a team already entered, Gardinier and Rider from the 2012 championship team. If they get a good third place runner in, like Tasker-Rothenberg from the 2012 squad, they should win handily.And, indeed, the third runner could be several minutes slower than and it might still be enough to claim the first place medal. I will go out on a limb and predict that Syracuse will get their third runner entered and will take the team title followed by Playmakers Elite, forcing Checkers down to third place.

It looks like lots of great team races on Sunday. Now we just have to hope that the weather gods cooperate. After a couple of weeks of consistently sunny weather the forecast now calls for rain on Saturday but not Sunday. Let's hope the forecast stays that way and hope that any rain on Saturday is light enough that there are no deep puddles on the course. It'll be great to see how things turen out this year!

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